Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a U.S. Representative, declared on Friday that he has never met or spoken with Sam Bankman-Fried and is unsure of the motivation behind the crypto tycoon’s $151,420 purchase of direct mail pieces introducing Garcia to people in his recently redistricted congressional district.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been saturating the airwaves with a cartoonish ad linking Garcia, the presumed front-runner for mayor, to Bankman-Fried and Michael Madigan, the former speaker of the Illinois House who was arrested.
It charges Garcia, a member of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee, with having “secretly talked with this crypto crook who stole his customers’ life savings and then spent a fortune to reelect Garcia.” The committee oversees a portion of the digital asset sector, which includes cryptocurrency.
Garcia made an effort to end the debate on Friday.
He reminded reporters that he had returned a $2,900 gift from Bankman-Fried, making him the “first Democrat in Congress” to do so. The mayoral contender added that he has a history of “criticising cryptocurrency” on the Financial Services Committee dating back almost four years.
“I have said that it requires regulation. It’s volatile, so. That it puts our financial system in peril. On that committee, I have sponsored legislation and collaborated with individuals like [Sen.] Elizabeth Warren,” Garcia said.
By law and by definition, I had nothing to do with the Bankman-Fried-funded independent expenditure PAC called Protect Our Future, according to Garcia.
“I had no rivals. not in need of the money. did not request the cash. There wasn’t a gathering. Never have we met. Bankman-Fried and I have never had a conversation. There wasn’t a gathering. It never took place. I don’t communicate with him at all. Never have,” said Garcia.
Garcia responded, “I don’t know,” when asked why Bankman-Fried would give a six-figure donation to a member of the committee in charge of overseeing cryptocurrency who had no rivals. I’m not acquainted with the man. I have never talked to him. I’m uncertain if he had any other plans.
“How many financial professionals and investors Sam Bankman-Fried defrauded is what impresses me about everything we’re learning about him, And that still baffles me much,” Garcia remarked.
The Bankman-Fried donations to Protect Our Future were revealed by Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lynn Sweet in late June. Garcia revealed to Sweet at the time that Bankman-Fried had called earlier in the month to talk about pandemic preparedness.
Garcia claimed on Friday that Bankman-brother Fried’s had called him.
“I spoke with his brother on the phone to discuss pandemics and his interest in pandemic preparedness. He made notice of the fact that I had actively advocated for the communities that had been hit hardest by the outbreak. I made a statement. I promoted the provision of resources, including to emerging nations. That must have piqued his interest, the lawmaker added.